Macro Close Up Photography: Cheaper Alternative to Macro Photography

Macro attempts using available cheap alternatives to those expensive macro lenses.

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This week, I just found myself in the close up macro phase of my on-off photography adventure. And having found the regular macro lenses a little too expensive for my taste, I got into a little research about cheap macro photography setups or equipment. And fortunately, I found a few cheap macro close up alternatives.

The Macro Close Up Lens

close up macro filters

I’m not referring to the real macro lens such as the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro Lens as like I said earlier, it’s a tad too expensive for me unless I specialize in macro photography. What I mean are those little filter sized lenses you put on your lens that lets you get closer to your subject beyond the minimum focusing distance that your regular lens allows.

I got 4 pieces of these little lenses like the 1 2 4 10 Close Up Macro Filter at Amazon. The 1 2 4 10 numbers simply mean a dioptre magnification of 1x, 2x, 4x, and 10x.

Here are some of my attempts at macro close up photography using the filters. As I can’t find some interesting object like a bee perhaps or a spider to shoot, I used my forefinger as a test subject. For these, I coupled the 4x and 10x filters together and placed it on top of the 18-55mm kit lens.

close up macro
Uncropped photo of a forefinger
cheaper alternative to macro photography
The kit lens with the 10x and 4x tandem

The Macro Reverse Ring

The day after I shot the above pictures, I went to the malls to check out for reverse rings. Among the first three malls I visited, only one happened to have a store that sells these rings. I purchased a 58mm reverse ring which fit perfectly with my 18-55mm kit lens.

Hereunder are some of my attempts at macro photography. Again, these attempts being at the spur-of-the-moment ones, I scrambled to find something interesting to shoot besides my forefinger again. I the absence of an interesting subject, I opted to make a door key my subject for test shooting using my macro reverse ring. 🙂

cheap macro photography equipment
Using the macro reverse ring with the 10x and 4x macro close up lenses on the 18-55mm kit lens. Uncropped.
cheap macro photography setup
Using the macro reverse ring on the 18-55mm kit lens only. Uncropped.
cheaper alternative macro photography
The model

I’m sure the macro shots using those expensive macro lenses give way much better quality images than these cheap alternatives. Because if not, no one would be shelling out big bucks if their quality equals those taken through the above-cited alternative macro photography setups. Me, unless I decide to take macro photography more seriously, I shall content myself with these cheaper close up macro equipment.

Yet Another Cheap Macro Close Up Photography Setup

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12 thoughts on “Macro Close Up Photography: Cheaper Alternative to Macro Photography”

    1. I guess you’re right. Talent is first in making a good photographer. The different cameras and different lenses are just tools to bring out the best that a talented photographer can do. 🙂

  1. I think your upclose photo of your fingertip looks great!I was wondering if you would recommend the filters you bought for a beginner like me that wants to take macro pictures of crafts for a blog? I don’t mind investing some money in a good camera and lenses, but I can’t get the most expensive either. What is your recommendation for a camera that will be used for this application?
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    1. Hi Monica, thanks for dropping by my humble blog. 🙂

      I still am also a beginner, so I probably don’t have the credibility to recommend equipment, especially since I only have one DSLR camera.

      My camera is a Canon Rebel 2Ti or also known as the 550D, and my lenses are the ones I have mentioned in this post. As far as my experience is concerned, it works good enough for me. 🙂

  2. Hey James, that’s a pretty set of macro shots considering you didn’t use a real macro lens.

    I’ve actually got a macro lens and I don’t use it all that much. I must start doing more with it. I’ve done a set of shots on a ladybird but it would be a lot easier if they didn’t move so fast 😀 They’re actually quite slow but fast enough to move out of the depth of field 😉
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    1. If I could somehow lure a bee to stay immobile long enough for me to take a shot, it’d be a feat. But I doubt a bee would stay still with my lens just 4 centimeters above it. With the reverse ring, the IS and AF are useless. I have to manually move the whole setup a few millimeters towards or away from the subject. And while you could probably control the depth of field on your macro lens, the DOF of my setup is so shallow that the rest of the subject would be bokeh-blurry beyond the few millimeters of focus location. 😉
      james-mdeo´s latest blog post ..Macro Close Up Photography: Cheaper Alternative to Macro Photography

    1. Yeah, the world under our very noses holds interesting details and beauty that we often take for granted.The macro lens brings them and holds it up for us to gawk in awe and wonder. 🙂

  3. Hello

    Your post is very interesting. I would like to ask you for advice – I have Sigma DP1x camera. The only way to take macro pictures with this camera is to use the close-up lens. What is the best close-up lens producer – in your opinion? I’m looking now for the best possible close-up lens.

    Best regards, Kris
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    1. Hi Krazy, I am not very familiar with the SigmaDP1x camera, so I couldn’t give any advice with regard to its lenses. I’m sure though that a little googling will give you the answers you seek. 🙂

  4. My favorite low-budget piece of macro photography equipment is a set of 3 extension tubes. Cheap because they have no glass, they are simply spacers set between your SLR body and lens. The three tubes can be combined to your heart’s content, and the more space between lens and camera body, the closer you can focus.
    PS: Although close-up rings are great for getting in to macro photography, they do rob some optical clarity, especially if combined. Most discerning photographers outgrow them in time.

    1. Nice advice. When the macro fever strikes me again, I just might begin looking for these extension tubes. Thanks John.

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